NEWPORT–North Country (2-7-1) and Mount Mansfield (8-2) engaged in one slobber-knocker of a soccer game on Friday afternoon.
Bodies flying, yellow cards, red cards, screaming and yelling; It was awesome.
Sadly the Falcons lost the match in OT 2-1, but they got their money's worth out of the Cougars, that is for sure.
"It's a tough loss," said coach James McKenny. "They (MMU) capitalized when they needed to and that is the way the game goes. They have to feel pretty lucky getting out of here with a win."
I will be the first to admit that I like the style of play that the North Country boys soccer team plays.
Rough, gritty, physical soccer with an edge of nastiness to it.
Heck, when I played, my favorite thing to do besides scoring was a good clean slide tackle that sent my adversary hurling through space.
However, when playing this way, one must understand that you will make no friends with the ladies and gentlemen who officiate the game.
Therefore, when engaging in said style you must understand that you are going to have to live with the fact that you are not going to get the close calls against, you will be whistled for even the most perceived of slights, and of utmost importance, you will never win a verbal encounter with the referees.
It comes with the territory.
You get the picture, so onto the action.
North Country was behind the eight ball almost from the beginning of the game.
Less than two minutes in, Sean Springer beat Logan Fortier to give MMU the 1-0 lead.
Let me illustrate an example of what was going on out on the pitch.
Still in the first half, Chris Bronson got dumped by the Cougars’ Tyler Hawley and there was no call.
Didn't thing so.
Hawley, no stranger to the physical side of things, had been at this all game long, and the NCU coaching staff had no problem reminding the refs of the fact.
A minute later Kody Halikas does the exact same thing to one of the MMU guys.
Incensed, assistant coach Tim Stanley really starts giving it the official.
And rightfully so.
However, the ref would not talk to an assistant coach, and pretty much told Stanley to stick it.
Bronson mentioned to the ref that Stanley is indeed a coach and should have a voice in the matter.
Not the best of ideas, but I love the fact that Chris stood up for his coach and the way he plays the game.
Out came yellow card number one.
As Bronson made his way off the field he let the ref know that he was going to go talk to his assistant coach.
"Chris lays it all out there, heart and soul. He is taking some real ownership in his senior year and is not going to walk off of the field thinking he has not given his all," said McKenny.
I'm surprised he didn't get tossed right there, but there would be time for that later.
Keep in mind that MMU and their coach Phil Jacobs were just as vocal and physical as North Country, so if you think I am painting the Falcons out to be a bunch of thugs, your are mistaken.
Both teams managed to make it to the second half without any serious injury or assault charges filed.
In the second, Nate Marsh had a good chance to tie the game in the opening minute, but fell short in his attempt.
Soon after this, Travers Parsons-Grayson got wiped out trying to make a play, but he took his licking and kept on ticking.
"I usually don't think about it, I just focus on getting the ball," Travers said about the physical stuff on the field.
Seven minutes in and NCU was bringing the heat.
Jesse Breault, Bronson, Adam Viens, Halikas, Travis Tetreault, Ruffie Palin, all of these guys were buzzing around creating havoc for the Cougars.
With 12:47 left, the Falcons caught a break, albeit the ref was slow to whistle it, when Viens was bowled over just about on the MMU 18.
Zach Tweed took the direct kick and sent it past the wall and goalie Ian Besse to tie the game.
The Falcons had a glorious chance to win the game with 3:11 left to play.
Palin was fouled inside the eighteen and NCU was awarded the obligatory penalty-kick.
Alright, finally some justice.
After some debate as to who was going to take the shot, Halikas lined up in front of the six and...
Fired the ball wide to the left.
"You have got to make those shots if you want to win in this league. We didn't, and it cost us," said McKenny.
Going the other way with the momentum behind them, Mount Mansfield nearly won it in the final seconds, but Ryan Paul, his goalie instincts ever on alert, made a great save behind Fortier to send the game into overtime.
Four minutes into bonus time Bronson got "Das Boot" on a horrible call.
While trying to regain his footing after nearly tripping, he stumbled and knocked into one of his opponents.
The kid recoiled like he had been shot and that was enough for the ref to pull out the yellow and subsequent red card.
I haven't seen someone get screwed by a ref like that since Bret Hart during Survivor Series 1997.
Honestly, I do know the difference between incidental and "accidental" incidental contact and this was no con job by Chris.
If he didn't fall into the kid he more than likely would have staggered a few more steps or fell down.
After Bronson exited the field there was distinct sound of something hitting the back of the Falcon dugout, but I can not confirm what it was.
Right about now I am surprised that coach McKenny's head didn't explode, but he held it together the best he could and his team soldiered on.
With the home team down a man the visitors took full advantage of the situation.
With 4:14 left, Brad Adair came down the right side and sent one home to get the win.
Then I heard a scream.
A guttural unleashing of anguish that comes from somewhere down deep.
It was Fortier, who had 8 saves in the game.
All that pent up rage came out in a mighty yell and it pretty much summed things up for the Falcons.
Disappointment, frustration, anger, you name it, it was all there for the world to hear.
Said McKenny, "It was frustrating, that is for sure. The guys put a lot of hard work into this every day and we were looking for the win."
What will happen when North Country takes on BFA St. Albans under the lights on Wednesday?
I don't know.
They won last time when the teams squared off under the lights at the Collins-Perley Complex, so maybe this is the perfect setting for a little soul cleansing.
Game time is 6:00 on Veteran's Field.